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Definition of Greatness

During his annual address to the university community in September, President Richard L. McCormick outlined the hallmarks of a great public research university: “First, the discovery and dissemination of knowledge that addresses the most important challenges, both moral and material, that humankind is facing. Second, influence and impact that reach far beyond our campuses and our shores and, with them, a corresponding reputation for making a difference in the state and the world. And finally, sufficient resources—above all, the people but also the dollars and the facilities—to achieve these things.”

Because of its considerable achievements, quite a few occurring during McCormick’s presidency, Rutgers has many of the makings of a great university, he said (see “Taking His Leave”). It just needs more people, more money, and more facilities to put it over the top—an increasing likelihood if the university merges with the New Brunswick/Piscataway elements of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, as is being proposed, and if the state, heeding governor Chris Christie’s call, rededicates itself to funding and supporting higher education in the state. These developments would be a tremendous boon for Rutgers, unlike any other.

Nonetheless, university excellence already abounds, and Joachim Kohn personifies it. A professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences in New Brunswick, he is also a successful entrepreneur, administrator par excellence, and director of one of the two branches of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, overseeing 150 scientists at 15 institutions, whose shared mission is to apply biomaterials science—Kohn’s specialty—to battlefield casualties (see “The New Frontier of Medicine”). And as director of the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials at Rutgers, he oversees one of the world’s leading academic research organizations in the realm of bioengineering, dedicated to discovering new technologies and applying them in the world. From resorbable heart stents to bioerodible scaffolding, which is a temporary support to encourage the growth of new bone after a surgical procedure, the delivery of medicine and approach to surgery will never be the same. And Rutgers has a big hand in it.
— David W. Major